When you are on a gluten free diet, naturally you will miss a lot of the popular desserts, baked goods and most of all buns or baos in Chinese. Dim sum baos is no doubt one of my favourites that I miss so dearly. While the combination of pandan (screwpine) leaves and coconut is a match made in heaven, using this pairing of flavours and making them into a bun, the result is simple and irresistibly tasting buns. The inspiration for my gluten free recipe is from the famous Malaysian pandan coconut crepes (Kuih Dadar). This steamed buns recipe is a fusion of Malaysian pandan coconut flavour and Chinese steamed buns. I am using a combination of my own mix of naturally gluten free flour including rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, corn (maize) starch for my buns dough with added sunflower kennels and linseeds. Combined with the intensely aromatic flavour of pandan juice for the buns and stuffed with shredded coconut fillings sweetened with coconut sugar. This recipe is also vegan, dairy free, nut free, egg free, soy free, refined sugar free, no artificial colours and allergy friendly.
Pandan (Pandanus amaryllifolius), also called screwpine, is a kind of plant cultivated in the hot and humid regions of Asia. Pandan leaves have a fragrant aroma with a distinctive and sweet tasting nutty flavour. Pandan leaves are narrow long, bright green in colour and pointed at the top end. They are used to enrich both sweet and savoury desserts, drinks, baked goods and savoury dishes. Pandan is often referred to as “Asian vanilla” or “vanilla of the east”. They are used for culinary purposes as well as for medicinal purposes. Pandan leaves can also be interwoven into a basket for cooking rice. Pandan leaves inherently complement rice, glutinous rice, coconut, lemongrass, brown sugar, herbs and spices. Some popular Southeast Asian dishes the use pandan leaves for fragrance are rice dishes like Nasi Lemak, pandan chicken, kaya jam (coconut jam) and desserts like pandan cakes and buns.
Pandan leaves contain vital nutrients and essential oils like tannins, glycosides, alkaloids, polyphenolic acids, saponin and pigment. These polyphenolic substances have anti-bacteria, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. In conventional medicine, pandan leaves are used to relief pain, treat arthritis, lower fever, reduce headache and as a remedy for stomach cramps. Other health benefits include: remedies for smallpox and wounds; mild laxative for children; help lower high blood pressure; promote healthy appetite and treat muscle pain.
- Some gluten free flour for dusting work surface
- Baking paper or parchment paper cut into 2 inch square pieces
For the dough:
- 350 g 12.3oz rice flour
- 150 g 5.3oz potato starch
- 100 g 3.5oz gluten free corn (maize) starch
- 75 g 2.6oz tapioca flour
- 1 tablespoon linseeds
- 2 tablespoons sunflower kennels
- 2 teaspoons dry instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon xantham gum
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons agave syrup
- 50 ml rice milk
For the Pandan Juice [2 cups (500ml)]
- 12 fresh or frozen pandan leaves wash thoroughly and cut into roughly 1 inch lengthwise
- 550 ml water
For the Coconut Filling:
- 100 g 3.5oz shredded coconut
- 80 g 2.8oz coconut sugar
- ⅓ cup 80ml rice milk
For the pandan juice:
- Add the cut pandan leaves and water to a NutriBullet or food processor, pulverise until you get a thick puree paste. Strain through a fine sieve, using a tablespoon to press on the pandan paste to release more juice. You need 2 cups (500ml) of pandan juice.
For the dough:
- In a large bowl, combine and whisk together all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture.
- Add into the well all the wet ingredients and 2 cups (500ml) pandan juice and mix and combine well with a spatula.
- Then use your hands to knead the dough in the large bowl until you have a smooth dough that resembles creamy ice cream.
- Cover the dough with cling wrap and let the dough rest on the benchtop for 1 hour.
For the filling:
- Combine and mix well all the ingredients for the coconut filling in a non-stick frying pan on medium to low heat until the coconut sugar has melted and the rice milk has been absorbed by the coconut. Stirring frequently.
- Remove the frying pan from heat and let the coconut filling cool down to room temperature.
For stuffing the dough:
- Dust the work surface and rolling pin with some gluten free flour.
- Divide the dough equally into 23 large balls around 50g (1.8oz) each. Repeat until all the dough are finished.
- Flatten each ball into a disc or patty. Roll out each dough, turning it as you roll, to form a 2½ inch round dough with the middle thicker than the sides.
- Place ½ tablespoon of coconut fillings into the centre of the dough.
- Wrap and pinch the dough together. Seal the edges and gently shape into a smooth ball.
For cooking the bun:
- Arrange each dough onto a piece of baking/parchment paper.
- Heat up a wok with a steaming rack with some water and place the bamboo steamer on top of the steaming rack. Steam the buns for 15 minutes on high heat in batches. Ensure that there is sufficient water in the wok for the whole steaming process. Repeat until all the buns are cooked. You can use any type of steamer.
- Remove and place the cooked buns on a cooling rack. Best serve warm.
- You can also store the buns in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat by steaming on high heat for 5 minutes or in microwave for 40 seconds or until buns are soft.
4 thoughts on “Steamed Pandan Coconut Buns”
Ive never made gf buns but I think the fillinglooks really tasty! Gotta try it sometime
Hope you enjoy the recipe! 🙂
Oh these look superb! I’m lactose intolerant and you’re right, desserts are our nemesis!
Thanks Jane! Can’t agree with you more as I am lactose intolerant too. 🙂